Now that we’re well into October and things are getting ~spookier,~ here are some hair hacks to keep you from looking like the bride of Frankenstein! (unless you’re into that kinda look, that is)
Fall is officially here, and now that everything is Pumpkin Spice-tinted, I’m definitely feeling in the whole ~spirit of things.~ Being in Italy during this season is a little bit strange because it’s not quite the whole “New England” experience I’m used to back in the USA – it’s generally a little bit warmer overall here, and although there’s a slight autumnal vibe from a few of the trees changing color, I don’t get the entirety of the crunchy leaf satisfaction I would get strolling through Boston or even my hometown in New Jersey.
Crunchy leaves may be out in Italy, but one thing that is unfortunately not out is the way the changing weather still manages to wreak havoc on my hair, despite the fact that the change is so much more mild!
If you don’t know my full hair profile for some reason, my hair type is straight and dries straight, meaning that I never really have to use any heat on it, so I have no issues with damage. My hair structure is medium and not really prone to breakage, so luckily that’s not an issue either. My main “issue” when it comes to my hair is oil production – since my hair is so straight, oil tends to travel down the shaft more quickly, which means my hair starts looking real oily real fast. If you have a similar hair type to me, these tips might help you out!
I was actually inspired to write this post from the folks over at eSalon who were kind enough to provide the fun infographics I’ll be using with my tips!
RINSING – Don’t Drown your Hair!
1.) Good Oils → I personally hate washing my hair and the time and responsibility such a task takes, but every so often, it’s necessary. In the summer I usually have to deal with an oily scalp caused by sweating, but in the colder months, I usually have to deal with a dry scalp that then causes oil. Whoop-de-doo!
Luckily, it’s actually not that good to wash your hair all the time. According to this article from Business Insider, no one should need to wash his/her hair everyday as “people who wash their hair a lot to get rid of oil are drying out their scalp and producing more oil.”
In line with eSalon’s firs tip above, I used to wash my hair every other day, but now I’m able to extend the “wear” of my hair and wash it every three days. This has not only improved the health and sensitivity of my scalp, but it’s made it so much less oily.
2.) Preserve → Using a sulfate-free shampoo is what’s allowed me to “train” my hair so I don’t have to wash it as often. According to Beauty Editor, “sulfates are detergents—cleaning and foaming agents—that are found in most rinse-off products such as shampoos and skin cleansers… As detergents, they remove oil so effectively that they can actually strip your scalp’s outermost protective layer.” Yikes!
As we’ve learned, removing too much oil actually leads to more oil production, which is why if you find your scalp is ridiculously oily, you might want to take a look at your shampoo’s ingredients to see if sulfates are the culprits.
3.) Frizz Control → I’ve been #blessed enough not to have to actually deal with too much frizz, but my town in Italy actually has a “foggy” season in late fall/early winter that likes to mess with my normally-smooth hair. This hack works pretty well for keeping the frizz at bay because Haircare Manual says it actually “seals the cuticle,” which means your hair will stay shinier for longer.
Drawbacks to this method are the fact that it could reduce the volume of your hair and that it’s not usually pleasant to take a cold shower if the weather is already cold. I usually need a bit of help in the volume department, and as I said before, my frizz isn’t too too bad, so I only use this hack every once in a blue moon. If I do use it, I try to combat the volume loss by blow-drying my hair upside-down, and I try to minimize the unpleasantries of the cold by tilting my head back so the cold water is only hitting my hair and not my actual body.
4.) Hair Mask DIY → I love coconut oil and it makes a great hair mask! Why, you ask? Well, here are some of the benefits:
- Reducing Hair Damage: According to Organic Facts, coconut oil reduces protein loss in the hair. Because of its low molecular weight, it easily penetrates the hair shaft. This means that no heat is necessary to “activate” the benefits like you would have to do with other oils (olive oil, for example), and it can be used both before and after you wash your hair, depending on your preference.
- Moisturizing Hair: Since coconut oil doesn’t evaporate or break down easily, it retains moisture extremely well. This moisture prevents breakage of hair (hooray!)
- Protecting Against UV Rays: Healthline says that one study has shown that coconut oil can basically act as sunscreen for your hair and can block as much as 20% of UV rays.
BUT, not all coconut oils are created equal. There are two types of coconut oil: refined and unrefined. Unrefined coconut oil is the oil I use for my hair. The main difference between this one and the refined version, according to LiveStrong, is the process it goes through. Unrefined coconut oil is made by mechanically pressing the coconut meat right after it’s picked, eliminating the need for for chemical treatments, which preserves all of the goodness that the oil naturally packs. Refined coconut oil has undergone bleaching and deodorizing, and who knows what kinds of chemicals that process requires.
Basically, you want to be nice to your hair, and the less chemicals you can put into it, the better. I like to keep my oil organic in order to make sure nothing scary is making its way into my scalp. After all, I think of this kind of treatment as sort of a detox to give my hair a break after all the heat and other chemicals I expose it to throughout the day!
DRYING – Doesn’t Have to be Drying!
1.) Be Gentle → Your hair is weakest when it’s wet – this is a generally understood fact. The science-y answer from Hair Boutique is that “when hair gets wet the water breaks down the natural hydrogen bonds in the hair,” but if you don’t really understand that (I know I don’t), just know that you should be extra gentle with your hair right after washing it.
I like to use a comb after washing my hair instead of a brush to prevent breakage and to gently detangle. Another tip here is to start at the ends and work your way up – I like to work in “sections” and hold a chunk of my hair halfway, detangle my ends, and then slowly move upwards towards my scalp. This saves you the pain of feeling like you’re ripping your hair out, as well as lessens breakage you could cause by being too #savage.
2.) No Rubbing → Remember the whole “your hair is weakest when it’s wet” thing I just mentioned? Yeah, that rule still applies.
Rubbing your hair with a towel while it’s wet can not only cause breakage, but Huffington Post says it might also cause it to fall out as when your hair is wet, it “swells and the cuticle lifts up a little… when the cuticle is slightly lifted during the wet stage, it’s vulnerable to things that come in contact with it… When your cuticles are weakened to a certain limit, they begin to erode and your hair falls out.” Uh…
One of my hair “game changers” was when I finally tried one of the Turbie Twists everybody had always raved about. I was impressed because it not only dried my hair so much faster than a regular towel and actually stayed put, but since I didn’t have to rub, my hair looked a lot less damaged.
Since then, I’ve gotten a lot smarter – all a Turbie Twist is is basically a microfiber towel that’s shaped in a way with the ability to be fastened to keep it secure on your head, so you could just hop on over to Amazon, do a quick “Microfiber Hair Towels” search, and be on your merry way if you so pleased.
3.) Upside Down Blow Dry → I already mentioned this tip in the “frizz control” section, but to try to amp up the volume a bit, I like to blow dry my hair with my head flipped upside down.
Buuuut I actually hate blow drying my hair and much prefer to let it air dry, so this is a tip I don’t use very often because I simply try to stay the heck away from the blow dryer. Using less heat on your hair is another great way to prevent damage and frizz caused by damage, so if you don’t need to blow dry your hair, then don’t. I’m not sure what it is I have against blow dryers… maybe it’s just who I am as a person.
If I do have to use a blow dryer because I’m going somewhere or I messed up timing in terms of drying (yes I like to plan EVERYTHING), I try to minimize the evil by putting it on a lower heat setting. In the summer especially I only use the “cold” setting on my hair, but in the winter, I try to only go up to the “warm” setting at the very highest. Whenever you’re using heat, you should be using some kind of thermal protection spray, which you can usually find at your local drugstore.
4.) Diffuse The Situation → If you have curly or wavy hair, you may benefit from a diffuser, which, according to Sally Beauty:
“A diffuser attachment is designed to disperse the air flow of a blow dryer and spread it over a larger area. Diffusers are used principally with curly hair because the dispersed air doesn’t disturb the hair’s wave pattern or cause frizz when drying. There are several diffuser designs: flat vented and mitt diffusers, as well as finger diffusers that lift hair, adding body while maintaining curl or wave without frizz. All diffusers should be used with a dryer set on low speed and heat settings. Using a diffuser with a dryer set on high defeats its purpose and can cause the dryer to overheat. Keep the dryer moving. Never let the air stay directed at the same spot for any length of time.”
My hair is super straight, so I don’t really get to reap any benefits from this little attachment, but if you do use diffusers, make sure you’re using them correctly! Again, Sally says above that you should be using them on low speed and heat settings while keeping the dryer moving.
Overall, colder weather can be mean to your hair, which means you need to be kind to it to compensate. Being kind to your hair is actually surprisingly simple – avoid over-washing your hair, stay away from sulfates, and when needed, use a little TLC via hair masks. Don’t rub your hair and if you absolutely must use a blow dryer (*hiss*), make sure you’re either using a heat-protectant or using the dryer at a cooler temperature.
- Business Insider // “How often you should wash your hair, according to science“
- Beauty Editor // “Why You Need a Sulfate-Free Shampoo“
- Haircare Manual // “The Right Temperature for Washing Hair: Hot or Cold?“
- Organic Facts // “13 Wonderful Benefits of Coconut Oil For Hair“
- Healthline // “10 Impressive Health Benefits of Coconut Oil“
- LiveStrong // “Refined vs. Unrefined Coconut Oil“
- Hair Boutique // “Why Hair Is Weakest When Wet + Tips To Prevent Damage“
- Huffington Post // “Experts Say Drying Your Hair Wrong Can Make It Fall Out“
- Sally Beauty // Q: What is a diffuser, and how is it used?
*Disclaimer: As previously stated, I am not affiliated with eSalon in any way and am not receiving any compensation or affiliate commission for the posted links, I simply used their infographics to help explain my tips. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own unless stated otherwise!